All Leaders Have An Inner Circle - How To Build Your Team From The Ground Up




You Can't Do It Alone.




Every great leader has an inner circle of friends, mentors, peers, mastermind partners, teachers, pupils and family that are a source of their genius. If you are working toward becoming the best version of you, you'll need a team.


The Story Is Wrong

Our culture loves the idea of the genius leader who accomplishes everything on their own. We want to believe that Steve Jobs created all of his Apple products by himself in his parents' garage. Or Mark Zuckerberg coded Facebook while drinking beer in his Harvard dorm room. Or Nelson Mandela single-handedly freed South Africa from Apartheid. 

But, You Can't Do It Alone. 

Every icon, leader and entrepreneur has had a team which supported their goals. 

In the next few sections, we'll break down the fundamentals of building an inner circle so that you can attract the right kind of people in your life and get the support you'll need. 

In this article you'll discover:

  • Why you become the average of the people in your inner circle.  
  • How the people you spend time with will determine your level of success.
  • Who to include in your inner circle.
  • Why you shouldn’t be the smartest person in every room or the most incompetent.
  • How to build it - the practical strategies


Discovery - Who You Spend Time With Is Who You Become

In the 80s and 1990s, neurophysiologists Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues at the University of Parma conducted a series of studies designed to monitor the neurons specialized in control of the hand and mouth actions of Macaque monkeys.

By placing electrodes on the ventral premotor cortex of the macaque monkey, they found that some of the neurons recorded would respond unexpectedly. When a monkey saw a person pick up a piece of food with their hand, the animal's neurons in the premotor cortex would also respond as if the monkey was picking up the food.  [1]

Recent research has revealed that humans also have neurons with "mirror" properties, but on a much higher level of sophistication. Humans mimic the actions, facial expressions, body language, the tone of voice and behavior of the people in their environment. This mirror system evolved for thousands of years by our ancient ancestors and was used to improve social talent, develop empathy, learn new skills, and forge stronger community bonds by mirroring the patterns and behaviors of the successful people in their environment. [2] [3]

Humans also have the ability place our awareness inside the minds of others and visualize what they are thinking and feeling. It's one of the reasons why we can predict the behavior of others and use this knowledge to inspire and lead.

In short, you mirror the people your environment both good and bad. 

Obama and Cameron displaying mirroring in action. Image from  Body Language Success .

Obama and Cameron displaying mirroring in action. Image from Body Language Success.

Obama and Cameron displaying mirroring in action. Image from  Body Language Success .

Obama and Cameron displaying mirroring in action. Image from Body Language Success.


Who to Include – The Law of 1/3

The best way to grow as a leader is to have a mixture of people in your inner circle as follows:

  • 1/3 Pupils. Mentoring teaches you to be a leader. It shows you how to manage, inspire, and deliver your ideas - all necessary skills for any phase of your life.
  • 1/3 Peers. You want people who are at or near your current capabilities of to challenge and push your boundaries.
  • 1/3 Mentors. You learn the most from mentors who have been there before you and can provide feedback specific to your needs. Mentors streamline your progress. 

If you’re the smartest person in every room, it’s time to get in a room with more intelligent individuals who challenge you. Conversely, if you are the lowest person on the totem pole in every situation, you won’t develop as a leader.

Growth happens at the edge of your comfort zone, and you’ll to surround yourself with a mix of people below your current level, at your level and above your level.  


Practical Strategies For Building Your Inner Circle From The Ground Up

You won’t build it overnight. It takes time, shared experiences and common values to develop meaningful relationships - just like you and your best friend didn’t become besties overnight. Most people fail to make investments in meaningful relationships, and they pay the price in mediocrity. Your potential as a leader relies on the quality of people in your inner circle.

Below we'll go through several strategies to find, meet, attract people who will help you grow into the type of leader you wish to become. 


Finding Your Inner Circle

  • Join Paid Communities – Paid masterminds, online groups, and networking events are a great way to weed out the people who have no interest in taking action. When you spend your hard earned dollars on something it usually means you're serious. Paying for something shows intention, focus, desire and that you’re willing to take right action towards your goal.
  • Join Free Communities – Yes, sometimes free isn’t so bad. In fact, all 4 of my mastermind partners I met as part of the Rich 20 Something community.
  • Join Local Groups - One of my buddies moved from the rural part of MN to the Twin Cities. His favorite hobby is rock climbing, so I encouraged him to join a local rock climbing group. Now he only dates rock climbers, hangs out with fellow climbers, and leads rock climbing trips on the weekends. He found a local group interested in his passion and now has a support system for his climbing goals.
  • Start a blog, podcast, newsletter or publication - One of the easiest and best ways to build your inner circle is by sending an email that begins with the phrase "I WANT TO FEATURE YOU ... ". From there you interview the person and publicize their work (now that's 100% pure value). If there's a genuine connection you can begin working together.


Attracting People To Your Inner Circle

  • Be Intentional - When you find someone outstanding, reach them. This was how Robert James Collier and I connected last year. We hit it off and now chat every other week giving valuable feedback and advice. Not everyone you encounter is going to be a good fit, so when you find someone with shared values, take them out to coffee, use flattery and be genuinely interested in them.
  • Give Value To Everyone - Being an emotional toxic leech with a victim mindset is the best way to scare off everyone you encounter. I used to think the phrase "to get what you want you to have to first give it" was complete bullshit. And yet, each year that I'm alive I realize every win is directly correlated with me first giving value.
  • Be Congruent to Who You Are - Cat Neligan from the League of Creative Introverts is a perfect example of this. She owns her shy and introverted personality and doesn't apologize for it. That's what makes her interesting. Your inner circle deserves the real version of you. Not a fake paper thin veneer of someone you think you should be.
  • Play To Your Strengths - You are exceptional at a few things and average in many other areas. When giving advice, feedback or offering help stick to the areas where you are exceptional. For example, my mastermind partner Sunny from the Bushido Code is an exceptional graphic designer. His understanding of colors, placement, layout, text and size are second to none. When he gives me feedback on design, I listen. Seriously, check out the Bushido Code Instagram page. However, when I ask him a question that's out of his strengths zone he's honest. He doesn't say something just to say it.


Thoughts To Action

Knowledge holds no value when it sits in your head and collects dust. Reading an article like this does absolutely nothing for you if you don’t take some sort of positive action towards creating an inner circle that supports your goals. It's time to put thought into action.

I challenge you to do one of the following:

  1. Join an in-person or online community.
  2. Go to a live event or seminar.
  3. Start a blog and interview someone.
  4. Reach out to someone with common goals. 

Do you think you can handle that?



Who we surround ourselves with determines our level of success, happiness, fulfillment, joy, gratitude, and performance. An inner circle comprised of great friends, mentors, peers, co-workers, and partners can push you when you need a boost and provide a platform to generate breakthrough ideas.

There’s a genius inside each of us that’s just waiting to be unleashed. You’re doing a disservice to yourself and the world by holding back.


You can't do it alone. 




[1] Rizzolatti G, Fabbri-Destro M (2010). "Mirror neurons: from discovery to autism". Exp Brain Res. 200 (3–4): 223–37. doi:10.1007/s00221-009-2002-3. PMID 19760408.

[2] Keysers, Christian (2011-06-23). The Empathic Brain. 

[3] Greene, Robert (2012). Mastery


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